Slab Leak, cold side: Detection and fix options. Heeeeeelp

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Old 01-07-14, 12:30 PM
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Unhappy Slab Leak, cold side: Detection and fix options. Heeeeeelp

Everyone,

I am new to the forum and I'd like to thank all of you for experiences and expertise. I have searched the forum for relevant threads and feel I need to post this one to obtain the necessary information.

Scenario is as follows:

I own a single story ranch on a slab in North/Central Georgia, southeast of Atlanta, and have noticed moisture coming up through cracks in my driveway for some time now. I also noticed a puddle against the foundation slab outside with mushy soil/grass in the immediate area. As an ignorant homeowner (shame on me) I didn't think too much of it until I started seeing an active flow of water from the cracks in my driveway. More recently I've noticed a second puddle outside against the foundation slab.

Through the use of local plumbers it has been determined that I have a slab leak. The whole house shut off valve was closed and the street meter stopped running. The whole house shut-off was reopened and the hot water water valve on the water heater was closed and the meter kept running, so the issue is on the cold side.

Plumber A: suggested a leak detection process (by them) using compressed air, which he said at times could be misleading, for a price of $295. Once the leak was found it would be a matter of opening up the concrete slab, repairing the leak, filling in the hole, and pouring the concrete, leaving the tile and drywall work for us to get fixed. the quote was $1800 - $2200.

They also said they could repipe the whole house for $3500-$4200 which would remove any doubt as to there being any other leaks

Plumber B: suggested a leak detection of capping off lines to isolate where the leak was coming from. This process would run between $250-$300 and would be done prior to giving an estimate, since they can't give an accurate estimate without knowing how long of a run of pipe they would have to redo. The fix was to find the leak, tap into the the supply then come into the house from the outside up through the attic then back down. They said they liked to stay away from breaking the slab open. I was given a "ball park" figure of $600-$1200 for the repair. Out of curiosity I asked about a whole house repipe and the "ball park" figure on that was $2800-$3400

Plumber C: still hasn't come out, but over the phone said their process of detection was to also to cap off lines and isolate the problem area. I have no figures at all as far as repair estimates.

Plumbers A and B both said that they would deal with the first leak then pressure check the lines. At that point it could be determined if any other leaks exist. What are typical questions I should be asking as far as detection methods and repair options. I'm sure every scenario is different, but I would like to know what to ask. If it sheds any light on anything the leak appears to be coming from my master bathroom which shares the exterior wall where the leak/puddle area is noted.

Is one detection method better than another. Should I skeptical of a particular plumber if they don't use the preferred method of detection? Is any repair method better or worse, to perform a repair through the slab, or rerouting it through the outside then back into the home? Should there be any erosion issues I should be concerned about because of the leak?

So thank you again in helping me through this New Year surprise.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 01:15 PM
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Hello and welcome....

moisture coming up through cracks in my driveway for some time now. I also noticed a puddle against the foundation slab outside with mushy soil/grass in the immediate area.

How close are these two areas?

Does the main from the street come into this area..

How many baths home?

IMO do the whole house repipe period... You may have the issue again and go through the same thing... It will cost more in the long run... I done many of these...



Go with. not necessarily the cheapest guy, but the one you like with the best warranty.. Also when they pipe in the attic you want to make sure they pull the insulation over the pipe to prevent freezing in winter. ( Even though your in georgia)

Also insure they cut the sheet rock properly to access the manifolds. That would be a nice clean cut from stud to stud nice and square. Save the removed sheetrock so the person who repairs it has an easier repair...

They are repiping in pex I assume? What type of clamping system???

Cinch ring? Crimp ring? Or something else...( I like crimp rings)
 
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Old 01-07-14, 03:02 PM
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How close are these two areas?

Does the main from the street come into this area..

How many baths home?
1) If you're referring to the puddle and crack then i would say about 10-15 feet. Puddle to puddle is about 6-8 linear feet (one puddle is against one wall, and the other is against the other around the corner of the house) but imagining as if I'm looking through the corner of the house then about 8 feet between puddles.

2) the main is not close, I'd say about 100+ feet. Meter is by the road, the leak is on the opposite diagonal corner from the meter. It across a wide yard, then the house, then the leak.

3) 2 bath home.


I was hoping I wouldn't hear repipe as a solution. Lawrosa, I'm assuming your a plumber as I've read over several of your posts, in your experience how many times have you seen a fixed leak resurface or expose a leak somewhere else in the home? Cost is of course an issue for my, though I do recognize the benefit of fixing the whole thing to prevent a worse scenario later.

As far as the pipe material and attaching methods your listing, I have no idea, again one of the reasons I'm here, to learn what kinds of things should I be asking. When you say PEX is that HDPE? One of the plumbers that I did not list initially thought it was a main break from meter to house, so I kind of ruled him out for his misdiagnosis. However, he did mention that CPVC had to be used indoors, is that typical?

What should I ask as far as pipe material/attaching method if I decide to go with a repipe? Also, does material come into play for the repair? I gathered that CPVC would be used indoors.

I know it's far from your area, and I've hear you mention that NY/NJ/CT area is more expensive, and I know it is I'm a native New Yorker (Mets fan!!), but would you project a repipe for a roughly 1850 sq ft home (fully accessible attic) with:
two baths
a) has a tub/shower, sink, toilet
b) has a tub, a shower, 2 sinks, one toilet

4 outside faucets

kitchen (no island or anything)

water fitting for kitchen fridge

Again thanks.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 03:35 PM
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Well you may have a main leak too.. Thats why I asked how far everything was... The person should have shut the main off in the home and took the time to notice if the water still rose from all areas from the ground...

Possibly only the one by the house stopped... If the one in the driveway still perculates then you also turn off the water at the meter... If the water stops in the drive way then you have a main service leak and an internal slab leak...

Yes your area CPVC is probably the norm... I myself would never use it...

This is pex...

PEX Information

HDPE pipe is typically used for water service to the home from the street... At least here in NJ... I believe they may use pex for that down south now...

Cant say if you will have a leak after this repair or not... Most homes, once I go back the second time they just tell me to do the repipe... ( People dont really like thier floors jackhammerd if repairing in the slab.) But they are not going in the slab at all right?

IMO its cheaper upfront now to do it complete then if they have to come back for another repair....


I'm a native New Yorker (Mets fan!!)
Oh!!! .......

A one bath home repipe here in Nj is probably at least 5K... I did a 3 bath home with a crawl and two floors for 14K...
 
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Old 01-07-14, 04:14 PM
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I think you need to at least know what you are dealing with before dropping a chunk of change. I would talk to some leak detection companies that do not have a vested interest in securing a $10k repipe job. It takes the plumbers bias out of the equation (no offense Mike). For somewhere in the $350 range you can get someone who does nothing but chase leaks. Have him pinpoint the source of the leaks and then you can make a more informed decision on the work to follow. Have watched these people work, pinpointed a slab leak to within 1 inch in one instance. I also have taken a shovel and found leaks myself outside the foundation by digging. Found out the leak was associated with an in ground sprinkler system and they had tapped into the main to feed the system.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 04:37 PM
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As far as the main I shut the whole house shut-off took a pic of the outside meter, then waited about about 1.0-1.5 hrs and took another pic. Both readings, numeric and the little flow triangle were EXACTLY the same, so that's why I don't suspect a water main, but then who am I.

I see what you mean with PEX, I now realized I've seen it in home improvement literature/shows, blue for cold red for hot right? Is PEX more expensive and why trust PEX more than CPVC? Could you explain the attaching method a bit more, the rings you mentioned?

One company did want to break the slab for the single leak repair, that was plumber A. Two others have suggested going through the outside for the single leak repair.

If you could give it a percentage, how much of that kind of work is repeat or second leak repair? I'm trying to justify the higher upfront cost for a whole house repipe.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 04:41 PM
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czizzi , are you a plumber as well? How often do these leak detectors fail, or do they typically guarantee their findings to withing a certain distance? what kind of technique should I be looking for? Again, should I be skeptical of a plumber that wants to cap lines and troubleshoot that way?
 
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Old 01-07-14, 04:47 PM
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why trust PEX more than CPVC?
gets brittle IMO and expansion contraction is not that great with temp swings... Being in a hot attic I would fear joints pulling apart...


Could you explain the attaching method a bit more, the rings you mentioned?
in the link here... I like and use the standard method... Although I will use the SS cincher..


PEX Information

If you could give it a percentage, how much of that kind of work is repeat or second leak repair?

50/50....Roll the dice... Some where a few months later.... some were a yr or so... Some I never went back... But!!!! Possibly they called someone else? Maybe because new homeowners?... Hard to put a number either way...
 
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Old 01-07-14, 05:28 PM
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Krisma, not a plumber, but a residential/commercial contractor.

Look, you are facing a high dollar repair, Pay $300 to the plumber to detect the leak and push the repipe, or have some one find the leak and give you options. Opening up the slab is not a skilled job, you can rent the tools to proceed. The pipe will be 8 inches below the slab at most. A small 1' by 1' hole will get you in to see whats going on. Once open you can look at the breach and determine if it is caused by corrosion, or an unfortunate rock/pebble that rubbed its way through. Miss placed rock, - repair and move on. Major corrosion, pitted pipes, etc... tells you what Lawrosa is describing - time to repipe as you will have another breach soon. But I don't know how you can make that decision with confidence without a visual inspection of the leak.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:02 PM
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Update to Plumber C: Unfortunately my area of the country went through a nasty cold spell that they aren't accustomed to so they haven't made it out yet. However, a telephone "interview" revealed the following ballpark figures and solutions from this company:
single leak repair (resleeve): after using a leak detector company to find the leak (not sure how much this will cost me) a typical repair will run $400-$800 using a resleeve method where a smaller pipe is run inside another, though different methods could be used depending on the situation.

single leak repair (through slab): another single leak repair method would be to find the leak then go down through the slab, though they didn't seem to prefer this option $1500-$2000

whole house repipe: this particular plumber prefers CPVC to PEX and that would run $2500-$3000

Plumber C whole house repipe seems like a doable alternative, although if they find the leak and tell me it's just $600 then I think I would go that route for now.

Any opinions on the resleeving method?
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:08 PM
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using a resleeve method where a smaller pipe is run inside another,
No way...!!

this particular plumber prefers CPVC to PEX
Its your house.....
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:09 PM
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Lawrosa,

Please explain the resleeve objection.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:16 PM
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What size pipe are you going to put through a 1/2" pipe??? Or 3/4"?? Resleeve with what??

Where ever that pipe goes say a faucet how much water do you think your get out of it?

Just my opinion of course.... Possibly they do something else... IDK... I am just answering from what you are saying...
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:21 PM
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You are correct as far as size of pipe. I don't even know what is the normal size for home pipes. Whatever it is they use they said that if it's a leak to a single fixture like a sink then flow difference wouldn't be noticeable. If it's for a "main branch" then flow difference might be noticed a little bit. I'll know more after Thursday's estimate. However, they said they have never had someone call back for issues with this kind of repair, but he did say that three times fixing a single leak revealed a secondary leak a few months down the road.
 
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Old 01-07-14, 08:28 PM
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but he did say that three times fixing a single leak revealed a secondary leak a few months down the road.
Sure once you start jack hammering and stuff... shakes the whole ground ya know!!
 
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Old 01-16-14, 06:42 PM
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So, been busy, but i got another quote and fix options from plumber C as follows:

"1) pinpoint leak under slab, jackhammer and make repair, pour concrete $1800
He said $1800 is a flat rate he quotes, but repairs usually go from $1300-$1500

2) search and try to locate which line is leaking in slab and reroute or sleeve $125 per hr

3) repipe whole house thru attic w/cpvc pipe, insulation on pipes. $2100 to $2450

Customer will be responsible for any sheet rock repairs, floor, trim, wood repairs." END ESTIMATE

So again, does the potential of having a pipe burst in the attic and flooding a house outway a single leak repair with no potential for flooding the interior of a house?

Plumber C leans towards single leak repair because of the potential of a pipe freezing in an attic and damaging a home. He gave the example of having a fire in a house, sure fire will do damage, but most of the damage comes from the water that is used to put the fire out.

Thanks again, looking for honest answers and reasoning behind said answers.
 
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Old 01-18-14, 06:21 AM
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Bump,

Just looking for advise. This is a huge deal to me and I'm trying to explore the beat solution for me. Also, if going with cpvc, t plumber said they would insulate pipes but what can I do to further insulate the pipes to keep from freezing. I think I lean towards repipe, but I am really concerned about pipes freezing.

Lawrosa, u up? ............ Anyone.......
 
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Old 01-18-14, 06:49 AM
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Logic says that if you have puddling near your house then the leak is relatively close to that area. I'm somewhat surprised that the leak is on the cold side as expansion and contraction on the hot side rubbing against a pebble is what I often expect with a slab leak. If it was my house, I would get my shovel and dig where the water is seeping outside the house. There is a chance, albeit slim, that you will see the breech. I had one situation where the leak was outside the foundation and related to a sprinkler system. Dug down in the wet mud until we reached running water and the hole in the pipe.

Another time, the leak detection company nailed the spot on the slab directly above the leak. They used ultra sensative listening equipment. They listened to the leak with water, and then back fed the lines with air and listened again. They also checked and traced the rest of the pipes and listened along its length to see if there was another breach or not.

Rather than jack hammer the slab, I drilled a series of holes through the slab to weaken it (think of a connect the dots picture) and then removed the balance with a small demo hammer. Very little vibration at all. Then based on the condition of the pipes in the ground I determined that the hole was a fluke pebble in the correct spot. It took 50 years for that pebble to rub through. The rest of the pipe was fine. As it was on the hot side, I installed and expansion loop and closed things up. I didn't want the expansion and contraction to pull the soldered joint apart. Saved the homeowner thousands of dollars vs the re-pipe. But as noted, each situation is unique. Which is why I keep saying, without seeing the pipe and hole and condition of the dirt and overall pipe, it would be impossible the make an informed decision in your case. Which is making you lean toward the re-pipe.
 
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Old 01-18-14, 06:53 AM
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I would not CPVC anything... Never.. Just my opinion from what I have seen.. CPVC does not expand and contract like Pex.. Pex if the preferred method...
 
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Old 01-18-14, 07:02 AM
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Serna as the pressure regulating valve is failing, plumber said system pressure was reading 135. Should I be concerned about the existing cpvc in my home if I decide to go with a single leak repair option
 
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Old 01-18-14, 11:52 AM
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I guess some of my questions arise from have fix estimates relatively close to repipe estimates. I mean $1800 for a repair vs $2500 for a repipe. A couple of other estimates were in this similar range. One estimate was close to $2000 more for a repipe. I'm very concerned about having a pipe burst in my attic, but then again I don't want to do myself a disservice by not repiping and maybe having other leaks in the future.

Also, any ideas on my previous post regarding water pressure? Plumber said system pressure was at 135. Could this damage the other cpvc pipes in my house? What pressure is cpvc rated for?
 
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Old 01-18-14, 01:19 PM
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plumber said system pressure was reading 135.
Need a prv ASAP before you do anything... PSI in a home should be no higher then 80 psi... You will blow out joints of any material used for water piping...

Also when they repipe relief valve at water heater needs to be changed to a 100 psi variety as well as a 100 pressure only relief valve located somewhere in the piping...

Again I would not suggest CPVC for water piping in the home... Just my opinion....

I have seen so many failures in my career...

Read here and make your own decision...

http://cpcplastics.com/pvc_plastic_e...rt_package.pdf
 
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